Friday, July 25, 2014

My first Bento box

Well, here it is ~ my first ever attempt at making a bento box.  I literally have NONE of the nifty little parts & pieces that should make a pretty bento.  Only a few cookie cutters, an egg slicer, & some imagination.  That ancient round Tupperware from the 70's isn't the cutest container, either ~ but, it will all have to do until my ebay & Daiso goodies get here. 

the contents are portabella mushrooms & crab sautéed in lemon grass, ginger, & garlic (among other things) snap peas, avocado, & a boiled egg dyed in the beet juice, along with cucumbers, carrots, cheese & beets cut with a small flower cookie cutter ~ all on a bed of jasmine rice & some fancy or other long leaf lettuce. 

Took about 15 minutes to put it together.

I hope my husband likes it, because it was REALLY fun to make.

Recipe for the crab & mushrooms:
(feeds one ~ however, the sauce base you could definitely get a few more mushroom slices in there, as well as another 1/2 cup or so of the crab.)

2 portabella mushroom slices
about 1+ cup (or so) of imitation crab
3 TBSP sesame oil
1 tsp finely minced lemongrass
1 tsp finely minced ginger
1 tsp coarsely minced garlic
1 TBSP chinese 5 spice
2 tsp beef base (somewhat optional, but oddly enough it enhances the flavor, I get it from the bulk section at WinCo)
about 2 TBSP dill pickle juice (again, sounds odd, but adds the right flavor, I use Claussen, best pickles EVER...other than my mom's ;-D)
a little under 1/4 cup of Aloha Shoyu soy sauce

In a nonstick pan ( I use one of those white ceramic types), pour the sesame oil,
& sort of coat the pan a bit with it.
Then add the beef base, 5 spice, lemongrass, ginger, garlic & pickle juice.

Now heat the pan up to about medium, till it starts to make a nice sauce, then add the soy sauce in & stir that around for a second or two.
Just as it is starting to really bubble, lay the portabella slices in the sauce, let it sauté for about a minute or less, flip them over, let them sauté for another minute or so, then take off, & place on a plate for later. 
You'll notice the sauce nearly carmelized while you were putting the slices on a plate, so hurry & dump the imitation crab in there, stir it all around, cook it up for a few minutes, then turn the heat off & keep stirring it for a few seconds.  You want the sauce to really cook into the crab, but you don't want the crab to disintegrate into little shreds.
And voila, you are done!

This mixture is just about the perfect saltiness for 2-4 cups of rice, for more rice, increase the recipe accordingly.
A note about the lemongrass ~ you can save lots of time by purchasing the lemongrass pre-minced, sold in a tube, goes back in the fridge when you are done, stays fresh & lovely, & has a much longer shelf life. 
Same thing with the ginger & garlic, only that usually comes in a jar.  It's so win-win. ;-D
As for the pickle juice.... well, now you have something to do with it, no more guilt about wasting when you are done with the jar of pickles!  Just save it & use it in your cooking!  I have found that it is especially delicious with beef anything & most Asian recipes.  It's the vinegar, dill, & garlic combination.  YEAH! Never waste pickle juice again!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Another New Obsession ~ KIMONO!

Well, It's happened.  You knew it would.  I mean, it HAD too, eventually.  Times change. Yes, it's true ~ I have a NEW obsession.  And this one sort of ( ok, ok, there's no "sort of" about it) ties in with all previous fabric-related obsessions.....
Vintage Japanese Kimono

It started out normally enough.  You know those Japanese craft books....the ones with all of the brilliantly illustrated ideas & tutorials on basically ANY craft?  Weeeelllllllllllllll.....
Check out these amazing books! 

Aren't they fun?  Look at the little toys & purses (called chirimen & kinchaku).

I made these out of various kimono scraps.

 All hand-stitched ~ but the heads were supposed to be made of cloth, too, but I cheated & used little wooden bead heads.

Her fan is made from a bit of filigree paper, pasted to origami washi.

And this little saribobo is supposed to be holding the fish, but I haven't stitched them together just yet.

Ugghh ~ something went wrong with that envelope doll, her head is just a titch twisted, more like she's hiding, eh?

 Too cute for words, right?
Sort of like all those pretty little felties, only, ~GASP!~ you make them out of fabric.
And not just ANY fabric, either. In order for them to look right, you must make them out of bits of vintage kimono.

So of course, I set out procuring some vintage kimono to make these out of.

My first BOX of haori.
(Haori are like a jacket to wear over kimono)

 Now, there-in lies the rub.  Because unless you buy already-deconstructed kimono pieces, at some point, you will buy a kimono or haori, & it will simply be too utterly gorgeous to take apart.
 softest pink Silk Haori with silver threads detail
At some point, you may say to yourself, "Self, this fabric is SO lovely, but this garment is even LOVELIER!"  And then, well, that's when the downward tumble into the depths of kimono-love begin.
The stunning silk haori with silver & gold threads in action.
Because I wanted a large selection of fabrics, & because I am something of a  (ok, OK< I admit it... a REAL) fabriholic, well, it only makes sense to actually buy in bulk, right?  I mean, if you could find vintage silks, wools, & rayons in good, use-able shape, you should OBVIOUSLY get more than just ONE, right?  ESPECIALLY if each piece is an original, possibly hand-painted, hand-dyed, hand-embroidered, sometimes hand-woven, even hand-STITCHED work of art.  Because let's face it ~ if you are a Japan-o-phile (it MUST be a word! ;-D) you know just how much effort they put into every beautiful thing they create.
Hand painted water-fowl, with gold couching detail on formal black 5-crest tomesode kimono.

The camera cannot begin to capture the beauty of this.
So... back to the large selection desire.  I just KNEW that somewhere, somehow, there must be SOMEONE that sells more than one of these lovely items at once.  You know ~ in BULK.

In some cases, this word can be your friend.  obviously, the word BULK has gotten a bad rep when it comes to topics of say.... waistline, or stitching....or even thighs....(Wood Genius would like to add the word  ~ hoarding~ in right here....but I just added the words  ~wood~ & ~tools~, & he has quieted down a bit. ;-D)  
HOWEVER..... the word BULK can be your friend when used in context with ~fabric~ specifically ~kimono!~

17 of one of my box of 20 kimono from Yamatoku

Who knew, right?  But I DID suspect ~ yes, it is true ~ kimono can be purchased in BULK!
A seller named Yamatoku is my very favorite source.  She sells out of Japan, in box lots of 10 & 20 haori or kimono, & while it is all used, MOST of the items in every box are completely wear-able.

At first, this "wear-ability" wasn't really of interest to me, since I was purchasing the fabrics for the main purpose of chirimen, kinchaku bags, & even silk & wool quilting.  But I have a daughter who seems to fit almost every kimono I own. 

pink silk kimono from Yamatoku box of 20

And these pieces are so beautiful, you just HAVE to put them on. 

And then once you do that, you just HAVE to put them on RIGHT.  And then, wellllllll, then you HAVE to get all of the little accessories to co-ordinate properly, and well, you can see it's a bit of a problem. 

And so, without further ado, here are a few of the stunning pieces from Yamatoku.  All of our obi are from her as well, I might add. (Obi are the large silk belts tied into many different styles about the waist.)

At first, we weren't very good at it.

No nagajuban, bad collar, etc. (What's nagajuban?! Only your entire kimono foundation!)

Too tight on the collar this time, obi melts into kimono, melts into obijime, melts into obiage, juban sleeve is hanging out, (at least we now know what juban IS, just not how useful it can be) & kimono in general is too small. (But it is GORGEOUS, we HAD to put it on!!!)

Now we are working at perfecting little things (& some major oopsies!) here & there.  And it's pretty fun!

This little pillow of genius is called an obi makura.  And the red shibori tie that is holding it in place is called the obi-age.  Both very important for keeping your obi perky all day long.

You can see that we still don't have any tabi or geta.  Those are coming on the slow boat from Japan...sigh.... literally.  Veeerrrrryyyy slooowwww boat. Because we had to order a few things from a place called Shinei.  Unfortunately, their stuff takes forever to get to you, even if you pay an arm & a leg for the supposed FAST shipping option they give you.  The truth about Shinei ~ they make serious money off of the shipping. It maddens me enough that I keep swearing I am NEVER buying from them again. 
Incidentally, this beautiful silk meisen kimono, as well as all of our obi, came from Yamatoku, & her boxes of silk kimono, mixed kimono, & obi lots.

Because Jess was such a wonderful doll for me to dress up & let me take pics of her in the beautiful kimono, I took her out to Red Robin, all dressed up, of course!

(still didn't understand the importance of the eri-shin at this point.  But it came to us, eventually, lol.)

Eri-shin is a MUST! (it's a collar stiffener, you put it in your nagajuban collar, & it helps keep all the other collars in line & looking decent.)

I have a number of vintage brooches that seem to work rather well as obi-dome. Also, how do you like the green parachute cord we used for obi-jime?  It matched so nicely ~ little on the small in diameter side ~ but I don't have the real obi-jime here yet. (Again, with that sloooowwww boat!)

This kimono looks a bit like my mom's vintage tablecloths, but the colors are so pretty, & the fabric looks to be a tsumugi silk. (Nubby, but amazingly soft.)

 One of the kinchaku bags that I made out of a very pretty (but not wearable) silk bingata kimono.

We're still working on our kitsuke (that pretty much means dressing) skills.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Newborn Kit layettes FREE BABY PATTERN LINKS

All right, in this post, I have some awesome links to some really awesome free newborn kit layette patterns. 

As you know, I and my last 2 kids at home have been going to our local humanitarian center twice a week, and I have been crocheting up items for the newborn kits.  This little activity goes hand in hand with another new passion of mine ~ GRANDCHILDREN!   YEAHHHHH!
Because YES< My oldest daughter & her wonderful husband are expecting the very first ever little GRANDSON! He is due near the end of December or the first week of January, and I have just been having a HEYDAY making little things for him.  Well, believe it or not, a kid can actually have ENOUGH  newborn handmade items....... and so, in my excitement, I make quite a few for charity too.  This not only uses up yarn stash, but also helps out other little wee ones as well.

So, in my quest for some really great, cute, versatile & FREE patterns, I have come across quite a few links to some very LOVELY patterns.  I hope that this can help any of you out there in your similar quests!

As you can see, this is a great, versatile pattern that can easily be male or female, just change up the colors!  Here is the link to Joanne Holt's fantastic newborn bubble, and on Ravelry, here.
Ok, now for the sweater pattern ~ Here we have a very fun sweater pattern that also can be male or female, depending on trims, colors, and etc. 
For this little sweater, I didn't add the sleeves, and I added decorative integral ties as well as a scalloped edge.

Same sweater pattern, but I have added a few rows for the sleeves.

Here again, same sweater pattern, but the sleeves are in contrast.

And with this one, I sort of improvise a fancy lower half.
This wonderful sweater pattern comes from Beth Koskie, over at Bundles of Love. 
If you would like to see my personal changes to this sweater, you can look it up on Ravelry, here.

Believe it or not, these both come from that same sweater pattern as well! Just a few trim differences, sleeves, and colors all make for a VERY versatile pattern that is FAST, EASY, and cute!!

This is my own dress & bloomers pattern,  posted here, & on Ravelry, for the dress, here,
and for the bloomers, here.  Each only takes a few hours to make, & any new mother will love them!
Now for the hat & booties.  The booties come from Beverly Qualheim, & can be found on her website, as well as on Ravelry. 
A few changes that I made to this pattern include an extra row of hdc ( 5 rows, instead of 4), a few different ways of decorating the cuffs, & a ruffle on the 3rd row from the bottom (pink & yellow booties).

I seem to have stuck the hat pics in the middle of the bootie pics.  Ah well ~
This hat pattern is my own, but it is totally inspired from Cathy Wood, at Cat's Rockin Crochet Fibre Arts.  I will post a proper pattern for this, along with a few sweater patterns on a new post soon.
If you understand how this form of crochet works, however, this may suffice for now ~
just chain 36, all stitches are done in the back  loop only,  go back along the chain with dc's until you get to the last six chains~ sc in each of those, make about 17 to 20 rows,  fold it in half length-wise, whip stitch or sl st  up the side, gather the sc end, stitch shut, & add a pompom.  Now fold up the brim twice, and VOILA, cute baby hat!


And this little pair of Valentine booties comes from this pattern, by Sandy Hagan, except that I changed up the cuff again.

This little set was actually NOT made for charity, but rather my sweet coming grandson, however, there is a free pattern for this, as well. It can be found over at Cathy Woods, with her Cats Rockin Crochet, as well as on Ravelry,  and let me tell you, she really does ROCK!  You will LOVE the ingenuity of these all-in-one designs.  Once you get the hang of it, you can adjust the sizes to whatever you need, just get the measurements right, and VOILA, adorable baby clothes!! 

And here are a few of the sets put together. 

For a boy.

Asian-inspired, it seems so springy to me!

For a sweet girl.

And another for a girl.  By the way, this photo bothers me, because the way I put the pieces together make it look like it just has bad proportions ~that's really not how it is in reality.  It actually goes together better.  Just bothers me, & since I already sent it in, I can't retake the pic.  It was late at night, what can I say.
I hope that you have enjoyed these free pattern links, and I would just be thrilled if you sent me pics  of your finished projects as well.  I will post them here so others can see your amazing work & charitable hearts.  Remember if we all work together,  with God's help, we can overcome any obstacles!